President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the new Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC).
The two state-of-the-art facilities are meant to optimise efforts to address evolving security challenges in the country, especially terrorism and violent extremism.
The President said the world class facilities would serve as major legacies and provide the incoming administration with infrastructure to effectively coordinate national security and counterterrorism efforts.
He also outlined significant milestones achieved by his administration in terms of national security.
These, according to him, include gains in combating terrorism, armed banditry, kidnapping, separatist tendencies, crude oil theft, piracy as well as militancy in the South-South and cyber-security crimes.
On the threat of terrorism, labelled as a major security challenge facing the country when he assumed office in 2015, the President said:
“I can confidently state here today that we have achieved significant milestones in degrading the major threat and restoring normalcy to most of the hitherto securitised areas in the North-East.
“These areas previously occupied by terrorists have been freed and Internally Displaced Persons are voluntarily returning to their homes.
“This was largely achieved through the valiant efforts of our Armed Forces and other security agencies, in collaboration with our regional and international partners.
“Above all, the support and cooperation of the Nigerian citizens.”
Apart from the degraded threat of terrorism in the North-East, President Buhari also expressed delight that the government had curbed the series of armed banditry and kidnapping cases in the North-West and North-Central zones.
He said that these criminal acts emerged as a result of the scattering of Boko Haram in the North-East and the implosion of Libya in the Maghreb.
On separatist agitations, the President noted that agitators in the South-East and, to a much lesser extent, the South-West who have been experiencing concerns of separatist tendencies were being checkmated.
“Meanwhile, issues of crude oil theft, sea robbery, piracy and militancy in the South-South are equally being addressed.
“Most of these threats have transnational linkages, thereby reinforcing the need for regional and international cooperation as critical enablers to enhance our national security.”
On maritime security, Buhari expressed delight that some key threats within Nigeria’s Maritime Environment such as piracy, sea robbery, crude oil theft as well as illegal unregulated and unreported fishing were being effectively tackled.
He said between August 2018 and March 2023, no fewer than 220 vessels involved in maritime criminality within Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone up to the Republic of Togo, had been prosecuted.
He commended the Falcon Eye maritime domain awareness project, domiciled within the Nigerian Navy and coordinated by ONSA, for providing high-quality real-time intelligence leading to the arrest and prosecution of economic saboteurs.
He also said that about 87 oil tankers involved in various crude oil and products theft had been arrested; the theft of over three million barrels of crude oil was prevented and 15 million litres of petrol and diesel recovered.
“Recent commendations from the International Maritime Organisation, European Union and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to Nigeria on our efforts in reducing maritime criminality in the Gulf of Guinea and successful prosecution of pirates in the region are worth mentioning.”
On cyber threats, t
he underscored the importance of protecting Nigeria’s cyberspace from all forms of intrusion.
To this end, the President said in addition to receiving regular briefing from the Cybercrime Advisory Council, the government had established the Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team and revised the National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy in February 2021.
“To further complement these efforts, I will soon be endorsing the Presidential Order for the Designation and Protection of Critical National Information Infrastructure.
“This is bearing in mind that cyberspace creates a nexus for synchronising efforts of our security and law enforcement agencies towards addressing numerous security challenges.”
On the newly inaugurated top grade facilities, the President described the secure hi-tech offices as a demonstration of his administration’s firm commitment to ensure that national security capabilities were kept abreast of the highest global standards.
He said the offices were designed to enhance strategic response to a broad range of current and emerging security concerns.
According to him, Nigeria exists in an interconnected world and therefore must be able to face and respond to both domestic and global security challenges.
While congratulating the National Security Adviser, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno and his team for the achievement, the President expressed confidence that the new facilities would, in no small measure, enhance the desired peaceful and secure environment for the country.
He also commented on some of the key security policy documents either produced or revised by this administration and supervised by the ONSA.
These include the National Counterterrorism Strategy 2016; National Security Strategy 2019; National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy 2021 and the National Crisis Management Doctrine 2022.
“In broad terms, these policy documents emphasise a Whole-of-Government involving all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies in combination with a Whole-of-Society involving civil society organisations and the citizenry.
“Thereby, we can achieve a Whole-of-Nation and, ultimately, a Whole-of-Region approach involving our contiguous neighbours, ECOWAS and AU partners in order to address various dimensions of security concerns,” President Buhari said.
In his address of welcome, the NSA, Monguno said the dynamic nature of global and domestic security environments necessitated the modification and expansion of some of the functions of the ONSA.
According to him, the ONSA’s core mandate is to assess the security concerns of the country and advise the President on all matters bordering on national security.
He, however, noted that the changing nature of the security landscape over the last three decades in Nigeria and the world had led to the broadening of the ONSA’s mandate to accommodate the needs of emerging security threats.
“The new office for the NCTC is designed to accommodate the additional workforce and improved technological capabilities of the Centre, particularly the Exclusive Devices Analysis Office (EDAO), the increasing activities of the countering violent extremism department and joint terrorism analysis branch.
“The new ONSA and NCTC complex boast of office spaces, a world-class hall, conference rooms, team rooms, laboratories, an auditorium and an operations/crisis centre.”
He observed that the facilities would further enhance Nigeria’s already recognised contributions to global counterterrorism policy and practice efforts.
They will also give impetus to the country’s internal, bilateral and multilateral cooperation and collaboration to tackle the menace of terrorism and violent extremism.
Monguno commended President Buhari for his administration’s investment strategy in legacy infrastructure projects and also acknowledged the support of the National Assembly.
In his goodwill message, the UN Resident Coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale commended President Buhari and his government for championing the NCTC.
“This is no doubt part of your legacy that will enable Nigeria to continue to address domestic and regional security challenges.”
Schmale represented by Kimaris Toogood, Peace Advisor, Office of the Resident Coordinator (UN Nigeria), also commended the Nigerian military for the progress made to degrade the operational capacity of Islamic State West Africa Province and Boko Haram and to improve intelligence gathering on suspected terrorists.
The UN official in Nigeria praised the ONSA for the development of threat assessments, watchlists and active cooperation with Interpol.
He also acknowledged the establishment of the multi-agency screening processes, the trials of multiple terrorist suspects and the development of Federal and State rehabilitation and reintegration programmes.
“We all know that it takes both kinetic and non-kinetic responses to end terrorism.
“The fact that almost 80,000 persons have surrendered to authorities in the North-East since May 2021 represents a real opportunity to shift the dynamic.
“Challenges remain in terms of screening and identification of those individuals and ensuring appropriate responses in line with their needs and profiles.
“Some persons are no doubt deserving of and desperate for humanitarian assistance.
“And likewise, individuals will need to be accountable for their crimes and justice will need to be served.”
He said the UN stands willing and ready to support the Government of Nigeria in this effort and commended Gov. Babagana Zulum for developing the Borno Model and engaging with the UN on this matter.
Schmale pledged that the UN would continue to be a strong partner and supporter of Nigeria’s efforts to address the issues of insecurity and terrorism.
He recalled that since 2001, the Security Council had adopted more than 40 counter-terrorism resolutions.
“As outlined in these resolutions, Member States are obliged to implement significant measures at the national level while also enhancing bilateral and multilateral cooperation to counter and eradicate terrorism.
“As part of a whole-of-government effort, these include criminalising terrorist acts and prosecuting offenders, countering the financing of terrorism, enhancing border security, countering incitement to terrorism and addressing the root causes.
“The visit of Members of the UN Security Council to Nigeria and the passage of Resolution 2349 of 31st March 2017 are the strongest demonstrations yet of the UN’s commitment to support Nigeria’s counter terrorism efforts.”
The UN official said that the newly inaugurated NCTC would effectively contribute to implementation of these various Security Council resolutions.
“And is thus a positive step towards Nigeria fulfilling its obligations under international law,” Schmale said.
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